WildStar introduces “play-to-pay” subscription model


If you haven’t yet heard of WildStar, I’d highly suggest visiting the game’s official website and just watching the “Flicks” introducing the two factions. It can sometimes be hard to get invested in the pre-release media and hype that developers try to throw at you, but I haven’t been this impressed by a trailer for an MMO since Illidan Stormrage informed me that I was not prepared.

It’s hard to quantify what is so good about the WildStar videos, but the best way to put it is simply that they’re overflowing with personality. Similar to Borderlands, this game has character rarely seen in modern titles, which have a propensity to take themselves entirely too seriously. Carbine Studios has opted for a more humorous approach, aided by good voice acting. I was pretty much done by the end of Kit’s explanation of the Exiles when she punched the camera man in a fit of emotion.

Of course, with the amount of MMOs going from subscription to free-to-play (or “pay-to-win”), one of the most important questions for any new MMO is what the business model will be. According to a recent announcement from Carbine Studios, WildStar will be a hybrid, with both a monthly subscription model and a “play-to-pay” option. The model is centered around an in-game item called C.R.E.D.D. (an acronym for “Certificate of Research, Exploration, Destruction, and Development”). C.R.E.D.D. can be purchased online with real money and sold for in-game money, which allows players wishing to play for free to grind out a pile of cash and purchase extra game time, effectively “playing to pay.” Meanwhile, players who want to save their in-game gold and can afford C.R.E.D.D. can simply pay a subscription fee. In fact, for extra in-game gold, players can buy C.R.E.D.D. and sell it to others and increase their own stash.

It’s a model that seeks to cater to both audiences who have disposable income but little time (such as people with jobs and/or families) and also players with little disposable income but lots of free time (such as high school or college students). Additionally, by offering C.R.E.D.D. to players who want extra in-game gold for legal purchase via Carbine Studios themselves, the developers hope to cut back on gold farming that is so prevalent in other MMOs. Whether this business model is going to work for WildStar or not, this is definitely a game to watch for in the future.

The closed beta is already underway, and if all goes well, WildStar will be released sometime in Spring 2014.

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